Jun 4, 2021

Defence industry technology set for digital acceleration

Technology
MOD
DigitalTransformation
Data
2 min
MOD’s director for digital engagement says the industry is set for period of rapid evolution in terms of technology and digital computing

According to the Ministry of Defence’s director for digital engagement, John Fitzpatrick, the sector is “currently less mature in digital delivery” but it is undergoing a transformation programme aimed at initiatives focused on the technology needed for on-the-ground missions, through to platforms for checking payslips and booking annual leave.

Having better access to a ‘different world’

The MOD’s CIO has also been heavily involved in getting the department’s senior officials and politicians on-board and engaged in a plan to revamp its digital capability which he describes as a “different world really”.

Fitzpatrick began the role as the UK started its first lockdown back in March 2020 and says the way the government has responded to the pandemic shows it has made much progress in digital government and technology. He gives the example of Universal Credit commencing in 2014 which was seen back then as a failed IT programme, but in recent months has adapted to absorb millions of extra claims on a frictionless digital journey, along with HMRC and the furlough scheme.

Digitalisation of the public sector

The move mirrors the medical profession’s adaptation to technology with many doctors’ appointments having taken place over the internet. He says he is also confident this progress in the civil service and public sector will not be lost going forward out of the pandemic restrictions.

Fitzpatrick says he believes the technology environment is different in government now and gives examples of the appointment of an executive director at the Central Digital and Data Office in the Cabinet and a chief executive at the Government Digital Service.

The MOD is now recognising legacy issues, new priorities and the need for funding for new teams and says its digital, data and technology profession is now in the process of maturing along with its use of computing and IT - which is delivering processes that may not previously have been thought of pre-pandemic.

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Jun 21, 2021

How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans

AWS
NASCAR
3 min
Customer obsession and working backwards from the customer is a mantra of Amazon Web Services (AWS), epitomizing its partnership with NASCAR

AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”

AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”

Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”

Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”

Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using  ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”

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